KODAK SIX-20 BROWNIE

kodaksix20brownie

SUMMARY
One of many several popular box cameras made by Kodak, the Six-20 Brownie is a little charmer. Featuring black leatherette and art deco face plate the Six-20 handles like all of its brethren. This simple box camera, made of cardboard, features a single, meniscus lens, two aperture settings, probably around f/11 and f/16 controlled by a slide lever, plus a two speed shutter. Pull the correct slide lever and the shutter will remain open until the shutter is tripped again. The normal speed seems to be around 1/50. There is also an external lens that when pushed aside allows for close-ups (5-10 feet) and 10 feet to Infinity when in place. There is no double exposure prevention, in fact the simple shutter release lever will fire the shutter when depressed, then fire it again when lifted back up. Two simple viewfinder prisms are built in for portrait or landscape orientation. Pull out the advance crank on the side of the camera and pop up a release knob on the top near the front of the handle, and the back of the camera slides off to allow for film loading. The traditional small, red window is situated on the back of the camera to view the frame number. Cover this with black masking tape before ever shooting a frame.

As with most cameras of this type, expect soft images and use in bright light when possible. The large negative is fun to work with, but don’t expect high image quality. Closer objects will appear softer than distant ones, even if using the “close-up” setting. I tend to use 100 ISO film in box cameras but do plan to experiment with 400 ISO. Nominal image quality aside these cameras are fun to use and are quite the attention getters when out and about taking photographs.

kodak620brownie-back

CLEANING AND REPAIR
The cardboard body of the Six-20 is covered in basic, black leatherette that can be cleaned up using any common leather cleaner. Usually the corners are worn and the heavier leather handle is either missing or in bad shape. The viewfinders can be cleaned with Windex or any glass cleaner. If they are fogged up on the inside, which is quite common, there are four small screws on the face plate that can be removed to reveal the shutter mechanism and allow for cleaning of the interior viewfinder windows. The shutter is a basic rotary design, and as long as the small springs are in tact, it should work fine. Lighter fluid or glass cleaner can free up most sticky shutters.

EBAY SUGGESTIONS
As with most vintage box cameras from Eastman Kodak they are commonly found on EBay in a wide range of condition. Ignore the claims of ‘rare’, ‘hard-to-find’, etc., as millions of these inexpensive cameras were produced during their production runs. Most Kodak box cameras from this era can be found for as little as $3-5 dollars. There were versions produced in various colors and these may warrant spending a little more but still very affordable. These cameras are light and shipping costs should be minimal. It’s always suggested to email the seller for specific shipping costs if not listed in the auction information. Study pictures of the camera closely. Usually the leather handles are missing, or there is significant wear of the leatherette. Ask about the clarity of the viewfinders and if the shutter functions. Also verify that the film carrier is inside of the camera. Do your homework, Eastman Kodak released box cameras that took a variety of film sizes such as 116, 117, 123, 103, etc. Currently only 120 size roll film is commonly found today, and is still inexpensive. While 620 and 127 are available at premium prices by special order from some internet retailers, 116 a common size for many of these older box cameras is no longer available. I highly recommend the book “Collectors Guide to Kodak Cameras” by Jim and Joan McKeown as an excellent, quick reference for Kodak cameras of the last one hundred years. Each American made camera, whether box, folder, 35mm, etc., is listed with various information such as film type, production dates, common features, etc. Finally don’t forget about garage sales. Many people don’t realize these cameras can still be used and many go for less than a dollar if your lucky enough to find one in good working condition.

SAMPLES
kodak620boxsample01 kodak620boxsample02

RELATED LINKS
Eastman Kodak
Kodak 620 Film Cameras
North Star Camera Collection
Kodak Camera History
List of Kodak Brownie Cameras
Michael Helms Kodak Museum
Classic Film Sizes

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